Some of the biggest names in global business have joined hands
with the government to help 5 million migrant workers in Guangdong Province avoid or fight tuberculosis
(TB) and HIV/AIDS.
The China Health Alliance, which was launched yesterday in
Beijing, will co-ordinate the project in the South China province
from this autumn.
Founding members of the alliance include global consultant
Accenture, pharmaceutical giant Pfizer, medical technology provider
BD (Becton, Dickinson and Company) and the China National Textiles
and Apparel Council.
The services offered include education, medical tests, treatment
and support, said Francesca Boldrini, director of the Global Health
Initiative of the World Economic Forum yesterday.
The forum will work with the alliance to tackle AIDS and TB; and
the programme will expand to other regions after two years.
Migrant workers from rural areas account for 80 percent of TB
cases in China; and with the heavy influx into cities, curbing the
spread of large-scale TB and HIV infection is an immense
The China Health Alliance is expected to bring together member
companies, the Chinese Government, United Nation (UN) agencies and
non-governmental organizations to respond to the growing economic
and social threat of AIDS and TB in the country.
"The pilot programme in Guangdong will specifically target
migrant workers employed by suppliers of a number of member
companies," Boldrini said.
"Migrant workers are the toughest to reach with policies and
programmes. Business is ideally placed to reach out to them and
this is why we believe the China Health Alliance is a major step,"
The member companies vowed to adopt non-discriminative policies
towards TB, HIV and AIDS patients.
Boldrini added that their experience proved that when the public
and private sectors come together to tackle disease, the impact is
China ranks second in the world behind India in TB infections.
It is estimated that 45 percent of the population in China was
infected with a latent form of TB. The current number of active
cases stands at 4.5 million, representing 15 percent of the global
The HIV/AIDS epidemic continues to grow in China. It is
estimated that 650,000 people were living with HIV last year in
China. Of them, 70,000 were new infections, according to figures
provided by Wu Zunyou, director of the venereal disease and AIDS
prevention and control centre under the Chinese Centre for Disease
Control and Prevention.
Two months ago, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and
Malaria was launched in the country with US$120 million promised
over the next five years to help tackle the three deadly
(China Daily September 12, 2006)